Overall Score 68%
Open Fire Gold
Tanks roll past, more and more of them. Arm the rocket launcher, ready the landmines! Turn those metal monsters into scrap!
Open Fire Gold is a very simple game. You operate a rocket launcher, firing with the mouse at wherever you see fit. Tanks roll across the screen and your task is to destroy them all. You also have a limited stock of landmines that can be dropped in places that are harder to reach by rocket. There are two game modes - the classic, in which you must destroy as many tanks as you can in the limited time you have, and "Stop the Huns!" - in which tanks trundle in endless waves and any that escape your bombardment will reduce your health. Run out of health and it's game over.
Controls are very simple. Aim with the mouse, fire rockets with the left button, drop mines with the right. It's rather like Missile Command with first person perspective. Powerups appear periodically, and these can be picked up by shooting them - blue ones temporarily give you extra rockets (fire three at once!), which can be handy against boss tanks, and red ones... I'm not sure what they do, but I think they temporarily provide rapid reloading. Destroying tanks in rapid succession boosts your "explosion meter", which rewards you with more points per kill the further you can fill it but which falls back when the killing slows down.
Tanks are varied in style and well rendered and they fall apart nicely when shot (e.g. boxes falling off the back, components shoved aside by other tanks), though I would have liked some bigger explosions myself. There's a certain something missing when tanks don't explode - am I just over-exposed to Hollywood myths? Parts also disappear a few seconds later, when I'd gain some satisfaction from seeing carnage all over the screen, but I suspect this would be impractical to achieve, especially with potentially endless play.
Sound is more limited, with effects (understandably) consisting of a few explosions and rocket sounds. There's also a delightful "swoosh" as the menu options slide into view! Given that the enemy tanks don't shoot back or even offer any defence beyond moving in a straight line, I suppose the lack of any other sounds is inevitable, though a few clangs from collisions with wreckage would be nice and the tanks themselves seem remarkably quiet. Two backing tracks for the game modes and a subtle main menu piece provide fitting if occasionally repetitive musical accompaniment.
There's really not a lot to say about the playability - you basically point and shoot. Reactions and accuracy count for more than strategy here. Certainly you only have one life. I'm not quite clear on the pickups for "Stop The Huns" as there appear to be very few instructions - the blue ones clearly give me multiple rockets for a few shots but I am not sure about the red ones. Are they reloads? I also seemed to gain a small amount of health occasionally - is this replenishing between waves? The lack of instructions would be crippling for a complex game - Open Fire Gold has the advantage of being very simple, at least.
As for lifespan, I don't believe anyone would consider this to be anything more than a quick blast now and again. There's little progression, there's no target to aim for (no pun intended) beyond "blow stuff up" (and possibly a place on the online scoreboards) and very little variety. There really isn't supposed to be. This is, in essence, a shooting gallery. At such a low price, it delivers just what you pay for - a quick bit of mindless fun. Hey, it'll last longer than the equivalent price in beer.
A small and simple game that doesn't intend to be anything else, I actually rather like Open Fire Gold. If anyone out there is dreaming of becoming a game developer, this is what you should be aiming for - a small and well crafted blast. BlueGill Studios are showing great promise and I look forward to their next release with interest.
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